Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Residual Applications.

Espirit De Corp?

Although the dust has settled on Fiji's electoral battlefront, SiFM anticipates more skirmishes in the undergrowth of a fledging democracy. The process of reforming Fiji's electoral system is a intellectual exercise, long overdue. Along with the national census.

S.I.F.M welcomes the Government of Fiji and will be looking forward to raking in more muck during their next term of 5 years.

F.L.P's precense in the cabinet will lobby for the deferrment of contenscious Bills, like the Reconcilliation Tolerance & Unity Bill. The newly appointed Ministers have an uphill task in rectifying the ingrained inefficiencies.
The gender ratio of the Ministers overwhelmingly slanted to the male segment, a fact that V.3 highlights. Vakaivosavosa: Gender and the new Parliament.

The recent announcement of a re- shuffle of C.E.O posting is a dynamic action needed to overcome the inertia of stagnation, abuse and corruption.

For a man recently charged with inciting mutiny during the post 2000 coup events, Messr Sitiveni Rabuka should now exit the stage and avoid making comments on Fiji's Governance.

SiFM agree with his rights to Free Speech however, his credibity in such matters is debatable and the Fiji media should now look to more respected sources.

First item on the agenda, the apalling water distribution system in greater Suva area.

Note the British Petroleum logo spray painted on the side of the 44 gallon drums, used to store water. Due to the utter mismnagement of the Public works department, Fiji citizens are resorting to this abysmal practice.

SiFM suggests that, the B.P oil company donate 10% of their profits; to revitalize the demand side of the water distribution network in Fiji to attone for their sins, depicted in this photo.

Club Em Designs

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Vakaivosavosa: Noose tightens on Coup Conspirators

Vakaivosavosa: Noose tightens on Coup Conspirators

The Real Slim Shady in Fiji.

C.C.F article on the comments by Qarase preceeding the election is another indication of biased law in Fiji. This follows the dismissal track record by Fiji Police, in apprehending the bigger fish involved in the 2000 coup in Fiji, as described by the Australian interview of former coup instigator.
Some of whom contested the 2006 Elections under the S.D.L banner.
1987 Coup master mind, Sitiveni Rabuka was recently arrested and given bail. High Crime offences should not granted bail, taking into account the gravity of the offense. Vakaivosavosa has an interesting take on the matter.

Police Inept in Dealing with Racist Public Statements

By Rev. Akuila Yabaki

May 19, 2006, 13:45

The Citizens’ Constitutional Forum expressed disappointment and concern today at comments made by Assistant Commissioner of Police/Crime, Mr Kevueli Bulamainaivalu, and Director of the Criminal Investigations Department, Mr Josaia Rasiga, to the effect that the police have not received any formal complaints concerning alleged racist public statements made by the caretaker Prime Minister, Mr Laisenia Qarase, and that they are finding it difficult to verify the statements.

The CCF has written to the Commissioner of Police three times in the past year regarding the criminal offence of inciting racial antagonism, which is set out in section 17 of the Public Order Act (copy attached). The first of these letters was a formal complaint concerning a statement made by Mr Qarase on radio station Viti
FM on 4 October 2005. “Mr Bulamainaivalu was good enough to reply to this letter, but he was unable even to locate section 17 of the Public Order Act at that time. He seemed to think I was accusing Mr Qarase of sedition or some other offence,” said CCF Executive Director, Rev. Akuila Yabaki.

On 23 March 2006, Fiji One News reported that another non-government
organisation, the Pacific Centre for Public Integrity, had made a complaint to police concerning a similar racist statement, this time made by Mr Qarase at a public meeting in Rewa. Footage of Mr Qarase making the statement in the Fijian language, with subtitles in English, was broadcast as part of the report. “What is stopping Mr Rasiga and Mr Bulamainaivalu from obtaining this footage from Fiji Television?” Reverend Yabaki asked. “For Mr Rasiga to say that the police are having difficulty verifying the statement makes the police look inept. The CCF knows that they are aware of the news report of the Rewa statement, because that was the subject of our second letter to the Police Commissioner, dated 24 March 2006.”

The CCF’s third letter was sent to the Commissioner on 4 April 2006. It referred to Mr Qarase’s statement in Rewa, as well as newspaper reports of racist statements made by election candidates Mr Jale Baba and Mr Ben Padarath. “Our third letter asked the Commissioner to explain his views on these statements and the approach of police to the offence of inciting racial antagonism,” Rev. Yabaki said. No reply has yet been received.

“I want to emphasise that this offence is a serious matter,” said Rev. Yabaki, “and especially during an election campaign. What we are talking about here is hate speech, and the CCF expects the police to treat it seriously. Mr Bulamainaivalu also said yesterday that the Fiji Police Force is responsible to the people. My reply to him is, ‘Get responsible. Get your facts straight and take dangerous racist statements seriously.’

It is amazing that the Fiji Police. who have been proactive in arresting protesters of the 2006 General Election then, gives those who preach racial division, a stern warning. It is time that these institutions of Justice in Fiji, become intolerant to crimes performed by influential people.

Obviously the Fiji Army Commander's recent warnings to the new Government, not to pass the controversial R.T.U Bill has irked many and provides much needed counter-point to the Fiji public often deprived of the knowledge into the broader schemes of malice.

Far often the Fiji media are not diligent enough to pursue investigative journalism and the public is being forced fed articles that, falls in the realm of stenography. There is a clear absence of probing articles, which courageously unravels the dichotomy in Fiji politics. Muckraking is also clearly an activity seldom used by Fiji media, at the expense of good governance and transparency. An important role that, S.I.F.M will not shirk from.

Double standard

I REFER to the letter by Tevita Bevu (FT 8/2) and would like to support his call for the Police Commissioner to come clean on double standards in relation to the release of a government chief executive.

The commissioner should stop hoodwinking ordinary citizens and reveal the truth that there are two sets of laws in Fiji and that he applied the rule for the rich and untouchables in this case.Stop making petty excuses and degrading the competence level of your staff, commissioner.

The excuse that officers made a conversion error reflects that you have incompetent officers in the force. I wonder how many citizens were charged by the incompetent officers and made to suffer for a crime they did not commit.

I would like to know why taxpayers of Fiji are made to pay for incompetent civil servants? Or was it the case of a junior biting the bullet to save a senior officer? So much for the commissioner's assurance of "one law for all''. Or has he decided to follow the golden rule of "when in Rome do as the Romans do?''

Rakesh Chandra

Club Em Designs

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Warped System of Land Tenure in Fiji.

Washington Post's article "Warped Land System" covering Fiji's land limbo and reflects the issues, which S.I.F.M had been actively addressing.

Monasavu Landowner's finally get their money after convenient winks and nods by the standing Prime Minister ( Laisenia Qarase) to Fiji Electricity Authority(F.E.A). It appears that S.D.L is using the well worn marketing image, of being a provider to the indigenous concerns; as a voting gimmick. Neglecting the double edge side of the argurment.

If S.D.L party was serious about landowner's concerns in their prior 5 years in rule, then why wasn't the sale of Mago Island to Mel Gibson blocked by S.D.L Government, despite protests of landowners?

Mago, is the same island retreat which Mel Gibson has shipped the Bowling Alley (lock stock and barrel) from Fiji's only operator in Suva, located on Fiji main island: Viti Levu. Meanwhile the protesting landowner's are reviewing their legal avenues, setting the stage in Fiji for another legal wranggle over land.

The same S.D.L Government that routinely reminds the world of-the importance of lands to Fijians; yet applies double standards when V.I.Ps are involved . Undoubtedly, these claims have come back to haunt Mr. Qarase and his S.D.L party, during their final leg of the 2006 election campaign.

Here's the excerpt from Travel Video news article.

[Namalata Devlopment Council Chairman] Timoci Waqalevu said the villagers were relying on the Fiji government's assistance because they could not afford the huge price the island was being sold for. He said the villagers had planned to set up a project on the island that would generate income to pay off their debt to government.

When contacted yesterday, Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase said he had already been interviewed by a journalist on the subject and did not wish to repeat himself. Lands Minister Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu referred all questions to his chief executive officer Niumaia Tabunakawai, who could not reached for comment.

Ironically, the standing Lands Minister holds the chiefly title of Tui Cakau. It was the original incumbent who gave the order to sell Mago island as a punishment to the inhabitants. The issue of Mago is karma for the Lands Minister, Naiqama Lalabalavu who was jailed for his involvement in the 2000 post-coup events.

What goes around, comes around.

Although, during the trial F.E.A's former C.E.O attempted to portray the payment deal, as a renegade actions by senior employees. The C.E.O's negative potrayal of decisions, made by F.E.A officials were not effective in swaying the court's judgement. An excerpt from Fiji Village 29 Sept. 2005 article.

Former FEA CEO Nizam Ud Dean today told the court that two of his senior officials Kasa Saubulinayau and Ratu Peni Volavola did not follow instructions before meeting with the Monasavu landowners in Deuba in 2000.

That particular straw man defense, employed by F.E.A lawyers, became victim of unitended consequences. The timing of the F.E.A's decision, of not appealing the Supreme Court decision, is highly questionable.

Monasavu Landowner's lawyers have successfully argued for backdated costs derived from mitigating factors of lost agricultural and forestry potentials; for the lands seized by Fiji Government, on behalf of F.E.A for constructing the Monasavu Hydro project in 1979.

This is an excerpt from Fiji Government website stating N.L.T.B's initial objections to the whole compensation matter.

The Native Land Trust Board will meet next week to discuss the $52m payout to Monasavu landowners. Executive officer Nimilote Naivalumaira confirmed this yesterday. The Monasavu landowners have yet to receive their $2million compensation payout from the Fiji Electricity Authority.

The Supreme Court ruled that the FEA was to direct the money to the court which would then be directed to the landowners’ lawyer, Tevita Fa who then will distribute the money to the landowners. However, NLTB said the ruling was in breach of the Native Land Trust Act which stated that the compensation should be directed to the Native Land Trust Board who would then distribute it to the landowners. (FS)

Fiji Electricity Auhtority has been enjoying the fruits of landowner's land that the statuary authority was lobbied to become a Native institution.

Here's the excerpt.

Issue No: 245; 2 December 2000

The Fiji Electricity Authority should be
recognised as an indigenous Fijian institution.

This is the recommendation of consultant, Isikeli Fatafehi to the regime's Minister for Fijian Affairs. According to a Fiji Sun report today, Fatafehi wrote to the Minister on 20 November on FEA letterhead saying that the raw product for electricity was totally Fijian, and that 51.4% of the "competent and reliable" paying customers of the FEA were indigenous Fijians. He stated that the FEA was a "100 percent Fijian and Fiji Government" institution.

Fatafehi has been a consultant for the NLTB. How he got the FEA letterhead remains a mystery. In July, landowners on which FEA's hydroelectricity plants are located took over the power generation plant after overpowering the soldiers on guard at the plant.
They held the plant keeping the soldiers hostage for weeks before giving up after FEA agreed to pay them a ransom of millions of dollars. The agreement led to a payment agreement of $56m to the landowners. Now, reports the Fiji Sun, landowners want a greater chare of benefits from hydro-electricity generation. Landowners representative, Simione Drole, told the Sun that there were seeking an audience with Qarase.

Drole was one of Speight's key man on 19 May when he provided the signal to Speight that the PM had arrived into the Parliament chamber signalling that Speight and his band enter the Parliament. Drole was later made the Minister for Works in the Speight cabinet. He has so far not been arrested or questioned by the police or the army despite proof being given to the police.

Simione Drole - Assistant Minister of Works in self-proclaimed Taukei government, recent graduate of an Australian university.

It is time that the lobbyist Messr Simione Drole, the advisors of the post 2000 coup events, be brought to justice. As justice delayed, is justice denied- the words of Martin Luther King which Fiji Police personnel(from top to bottom) have not appreciated to the fullest extent.

It has been documented that, Native Land Trust Board have dabbled in politics by mis-informing the landowners of their choices. Making the archaic institution, part of the whole problem of Fiji's warped land system.

An excerpt from post-2000 coup news of Fiji hosting's P.C.G:People's Coalition Government.

Issue No: 325; 29 December 2000

Over the past year, the Native Lands Trust Board has been having meetings with landowners asking them to not to consent to the continued leasing of their land to tenant farmers.
The revelations come in the wake of increasing landowner dissatisfaction with the NLTB on the significant decline in the rental revenue which some landowners have begun receiving. One Vanua Levu landowner challenged the NLTB to ensure that he will continue to receive the same level of rental income if he did not consent to leasing his land.

Reportedly when the NLTB could not give this assurance, he lashed out at the NLTB officials present at the meeting. This incident happened some months back but has been revealed only recently. It confirms the allegations by other ethnic Fijians, including Party of National Unity's Ponipate Lesavua, that the NLTB has deliberately tried to mislead the landowners into thinking that by not leasing out their land, they will overnight become large-scale commercial farmers.

The political agenda that the NLTB had is further revealed today by a report in the Fiji Times where the NLTB is reported to have now started visiting landowners again in Vanua Levu to ascertain whether landowners need the land for their own selves. Earlier, the NLTB has stated that it had already done
this exercise and it was the wish of the landlords to not to renew leases. The latest move by the NLTB is seen as a face-saving gesture on the part of the NLTB.

Meanwhile the Fiji Times has also reported the NLTB's spokesman as saying:"There have been many cases where the landowners go back to the tenants and ask for work and we're trying to reverse that and I think that's what most tenants cannot accept".

The NLTB aimed to achieve this reversal by issuing tenants residential leases and getting them to work as wage labourers on the land which they previously farmed. This plan was rejected outright by most farmers. But in an interesting twist, the NFP backed Fiji Cane Growers Association has started to support the scheme. Today's Daily Post reports the Association's Acting Secretary as urging all farmers whose leases are expiring to apply for residential leases.

Club Em Designs